`11.26.2010 Brooklyn, NY 09:02
We ship out in a few hours for the dates with Toxic Holocaust. It’s a short run but I’m looking forward to getting out there again. We haven’t played a show since the Planks tour in August; I think that’s the longest stretch of time we’ve ever gone without playing shows. The last month has been spent in the rehearsal space tightening up the material for the new LP. After these dates, we’re back in New York for a couple of days then we embark on the journey down to Texas where we’ll be posted up at Elmwood Recording with John Congleton for most of December.
The film shoot that I was working on wrapped up on Monday night. It went well, everyone was professional and worked really hard to pull together a 9 day shoot with very little resources. During the three days I’m back, I’ll be working with the director on editing the audio. I won’t have a day off until sometime in late December before the holidays but I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to do work on these projects.
I drove past my old high school last night to fuel up before heading back to Brooklyn. “YYZ” by Rush was playing on the radio. Memories are a funny thing; you always tend to remember the past being a lot better than it really was, the brain colors everything with amber, it can be dangerous road the go down sometimes. It was raining and nobody was on the street and suddenly I began to feel the weight of all the years, all of the bad decisions and wrong turns I’ve made. You can’t dwell in the past, you can’t go back and change anything, the only thing to do is move forward and not make the same mistakes.
Over the summer I was going through this depression thing. It wasn’t the cool, constructive depression where you hang out alone and listen to Bauhaus, feeling like a martyr, it was the real-deal depression that I’ve never experienced before. At first I didn’t know how to cope with it; I thought it was something physical. I couldn’t sleep, my appetite was down, I had no ambition to work out or go to band practice. I felt like my life was a dead end and that there was no way out and that everything was a downward spiraling vortex. I was working a job where I had to travel to an office and do work that my heart wasn’t into. It was a situation of show up, do your number and go home. It was a small company run by a guy who had no real leadership ability; he was extremely well-versed in the technical aspects of the work, but had absolutely no ability when it came to managing people. He constructed this system of releasing information in small doses, so you never really had the full picture. The same problem was present throughout the whole, small, inefficient office.
This whole trip went on for several weeks. One day I typed “Symptoms of Depression” into Google and various psych websites came up; I spent a few hours working through all of this content and discovered that I nailed all of the textbook symptoms of depression, true depression in the sense that a professional would have indicated that I was depressed. I felt motivated; I felt like if a generic website can define this that a multitude of people are experiencing the same thing. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t a “special flower”, that I was no different from the any of the legion of depressed people crawling across this planet. There was a path forward.
That was all I needed to turn it around. Until that moment, I felt as if my whole world was being sucked into a black hole, that I was going through something unique. When I realized that it was a more or less common problem, I knew that I could fight my way out of it. Depression is the motivator; it indicates when something is wrong in your life and that you need to make changes. It was up to me to act on it.
I quit my job and entered this uncertain world that I currently live in. It’s hard, but it is way better than the alternative of slow death and depression that I was caught in. It was a long time coming. The mission to is add meaning to my life and make a living, it’s been hard but I’m working through it.
Baltimore, MD 22:28
There’s one more band on then we play. It was an uneventful ride down. I actually thought we were heading to Philly for most of the day until it was time to leave. Philly is tomorrow.
People love to get fucked up. I can’t relate to it. Hanging out, smoking weed and listening to bad music is the path for some people, but not for me. I want to face whatever it is in front of me with no distraction. There are justifications and qualifiers, they’ll tell you that they’re different, they’ll try and pitch it to you in a way that will make sense to you.
It makes me want to sit in a dark room by myself when I’m around people that are drunk, high whatever.
I feel very much alone tonight, like there is no one out there who can actually understand me or who gives a fuck about me. Most just care about themselves and fool themselves into thinking that they care about other people. People come so close to meaning something to me and just fall short. Maybe I look for things in people to hate so I can keep myself away. I find the flaws and focus on the ways to make myself more alone. I can only let someone so close and that’s the limit, I shutdown.
I should start warming up for the show. I can hear the music playing on the sound system downstairs. It’s cold in this room. Soon I’ll be out there playing and that’s all that really matters.
11.27.2010 Annapolis, MD 07:34
I woke up about 20 minutes ago; we crashed at Cole’s place after the show.
It felt odd playing the set last night. I felt really awkward being up there playing after spending so much time running these songs down in the rehearsal space over and over to a click track. I can’t tell if we play well or even if I like the songs anymore. It’s the first show back as a three-piece without Nick. Robert did a great job mixing us; it’s reassuring to know that someone we trust is at the board. Hell, even if we sucked, we at least sounded good.
After the set, we drove out to a place called Paper Moon to spend our meal buy-out. It was freezing out so a nice hot cup of coffee did me good before doing the 30 mile drive out to Annapolis. Cole had to load his gear into their practice space so we needed to offset some time.
Toxic Holocaust are a good band. I wasn’t overly familiar with their music before tonight. I always assumed that they were a standard thrash band, but they actually have a darker vibe than the typical fun-loving, pizza thrashers that are making their rounds these days. Toxic have more of a Venom, Hell Awaits-era Slayer thing going on. They bring it and are really cool guys. I think these few shows will be good.
11.28.2010 Philadelphia, PA 08:44
I crashed at Mike Wohlberg’s place after hitting this awesome Tex Mex place over and 2nd Street with Robert. The last few times I was in Philly, Wohlberg has been telling me that we need to eat there, but it didn’t work out for one reason or another. He has a bad habit of buying everyone dinner.
The show was cool last night; I felt like we played well and the sound was together. Having Robert on board to mix us live has made a huge difference. He understands what we’re trying to do and conducts himself like a pro. Getz commented last night how the sound was more together.
We’ve been rehearsing the material and preparing for recording so long that it felt a little mechanical last night. Playing live hasn’t been a focus for us since August, I felt a little stiff last, but not as disoriented as down in Baltimore.
Boston, MA 19:20
The show starts at around 21:00 tonight. It’s going to be a long night. The drive up from Philly took us about 9 hours due to all of the post holiday traffic. That run through New Jersey on the Turnpike always bugs me. Even under normal conditions the rest areas are swarmed with people in sweatpants eating McDonald’s fast food and moving slowly. It blows me away how many complete families travel together; there will be three generations of people crammed into one minivan. It was a nightmare of humanity, travelling at a snail’s pace, eating their artery-clogging fare, filling the environment with their filth and waste and consuming resources. How many kids does one really need to have?
When we finally got to Boston, we dined with Thos and Chris Mountain at Le’s, formerly known as Pho Pasteur on Brighton Avenue close to the venue. It was good to catch up with those guys. Visiting Boston is always a double-edged sword for me; I have a lot of friends up there, but the city in general bums me out. It’s a place where you’re likely to be a victim of random violence, not like New York, where people mostly leave you alone. Boston has always had a really violent thing going on.
11.30.2010 Brooklyn, NY 17:43
I’m sitting at my desk listening to “The Blackest Curse” by Integrity. The day was spent running errands, sending out mail order and really mundane everyday activities. Somehow I’ve managed to stay on top of my bills, but it’s been extremely hard making ends meet these days.
I just came back from meeting the guys from the band at the rehearsal space to square up on rent. We’re only going to be home for another day before we head out. We play a few cities on the way down to Dallas for the recording session. It’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past few months and now we’re finally going to do it. There isn’t going to be anymore rehearsals, just shows and then the session.
It’s been a long, depressing year with a lot of letdowns and false starts. First the Mayhem tour got canceled about three weeks before we were going to ship out, then the Enslaved tour gets shelved because they were added to the Dimmu Borgir tour. I feel like it’s been one disappointment after another. Even the session had a lot of static surrounding it. I’m looking forward to putting this year out of its misery and moving on.
The show in Boston the other night was great. It was probably our best show in Boston to date. Everyone was there to check out bands and wasn’t wrapped up in “The Scene” or any kind of hipster vibe which was refreshing. I felt like our playing was strongest in Boston than on the other dates. I wish were doing more dates with Toxic Holocaust because those guys turned out to be really good people.
Panzer Bastard played as well. My old friend Keith Bennet plays bass and sings in that band. I’ve known Keith for almost two decades at this point. He’s in it, he’ll be playing in bands for the rest of his life. Panzer Bastard kicked ass as I expected them to. I haven’t seen Keith in a really long time, too long. A while back there were a couple of Wrecking Crew reunions that I missed. I honestly can’t remember when I saw him last.
12.02.2010 Cleveland, OH 21:19
We drove most of the day to get here. Somewhere in Western Pennsylvania it started snowing. The three days I spent home felt like three weeks. It’s all out here for me, not in New York.
This place bums me out; I was here with Wormrot back in September and it’s the same deal. The promoter is nowhere to be found and no one knows the order of the show. At least we get to play and hang out with Chris and the Keelhaul guys.
Yesterday, I watched the movie Inception during the afternoon. I had seen it once before in the theater but the second time around, I was able to pick up some key items which clued me into what actually was happening at the end of the film. It was a good movie, I’m a fan of Chris Nolan’s work so I was already primed up to dig the movie. I’ve been thinking about the dynamic between the DiCaprio and the projection of his dead wife. She existed in his mind and he couldn’t let her go. He kept her alive and she was this heavy conflict in his life that kept him in this constant state of anxiety. The cathartic moment was when he told her that they had to let go, that they had their time and it was time to let go. “Letting go” is sometimes the hardest thing you can do.
I want to play and get out of here. I don’t like the vibe in this place.
We hit the awesome record shop, My Mind’s Eye; it wouldn’t be a complete trip to Cleveland without going there. I picked up the first Michael Schenker Group album used, on vinyl.
12.03.2010 St. Louis, MO 20:40
We drove all day and now we’re in St. Louis at the Fubar. I was here back in September with the Wormrot tour. That show was a drag, the promoter was some dude that didn’t even show up. Tonight is a different promoter, so hopefully the show will be better.
The show in Cleveland was cool as far as the people that turned out to see the bands went. Everyone was really cool. The stage was weird; I was standing behind a stack of speakers for the entire set. I think we played okay, it still feels a little odd playing live. We’ve been focusing on the recording so much, the songs have been broken down and re-constituted; it all has such an academic vibe that I feel a little separated from the visceral impact of playing live.
The guy that booked the show didn’t show up so some other guy worked the show. There was a really loose vibe which made me feel uncomfortable. It was 01:00 and the guy was trying to tell me that I had to wait another hour to get paid which made me really unhappy. Some words were exchanged and I finally settled up with the guy, but he tried to make me feel like I was out of line for demanding that he act like a professional. All I know is that we drove for eight hours to play there and had a contract for a certain amount of money to be paid to us in exchange for playing. It should be a cut and dry situation.
12.04.0201 St. Louis, MO 03:00
The show was good, we played well and everyone was really cool to us. Angela, the promoter was great and did a really good job with putting a good bill together and working the show. An added bonus was that Chris, a.ka. “Big Red”, Pelican’s sound engineer, was at the show. St. Louis is his town.
Back at the Red Roof Inn, my home away from home.
12.05.2010 Oklahoma City, OK 07:20
I’m waking up in the Red Roof Inn, my home away from home. I stayed at this same motel in September with Wormrot.
The show was small but everyone was cool. If anyone shows up, I’ll be happy to play. I felt like we played well. The idea of laying these songs down in the studio, committing them to a final, unchangeable document is weighing heavy on me. We’ve been playing some of these songs for two years and now it’s time to step up and record them. The last few months have been a real trip, a real grind of preparation.
One of the high points of any visit to Oklahoma City, is hitting Size Records which is conveniently located next to the The Conservatory, the venue we played at. Jim, the owner is a cool guy and we hung out after the show. Carson and I picked up some records. I scored “Paris by Night” by Trust, “Nothing Sacred” but The Godz, “Accept” by Accept and the reissue of “Shotgun Justice” by Razor. He had the other two Razor reissues but I had to be aware of my dwindling funds. Jim also threw in an old issue of S.O.D. and old issue of The Probe, a magazine that I became aware of when I lived in Boston back in the 90’s. He also hooked me up with the premier issue of D.O.A. Dave S.O.D.’s new zine. As I was thumbing through S.O.D. I saw that “Winter Hours” got 8 skulls; that made me feel good. It made me not care what anyone else says about us, Dave Horn gave us 8 skulls!
The Probe was a pretty far out magazine. The big selling point was that there were photo’s of hot punker chicks posing naked. They were usually the kind of girls that you’d want to hang out with and listen to records with, the kind of girls who were roommates with the dudes who would let you crash on their floor when you were on tour. Girls that would work at a record store, naked, smiling, all in the name of good clean fun. That was a big selling point to me. Being a forward-thinking type of publication, they also featured naked dudes if that was your trip. Though I am aggressively heterosexual, I applaud them for that. If you are going to look at naked women, you should also have the freedom to look at naked guys if you are so inclined. It was a very groovy, San Francisco-type of thing.
It’s been cold. I hope Texas is a little warmer. Time to roll.
12.06.2010 Dallas, TX 10:51
We stayed at the Oak Tree Inn, probably the worst motel I’ve ever been in, it was like sleeping in a men’s room. I was having trouble with Google Maps on my blackberry so I wasn’t able to locate a decent spot to stay like a Red Roof Inn or a Motel 6. There are cigarette burns all over the fixtures in the bathroom, the sheets are dirty and all of the furniture was trashed. There was blood on one of the pillows. Last night, when I checked in the guy at the little window wrote me a handwritten receipt, as if no one had ever asked him for a legit, printed receipt. I slept in my sleeping bag, fully clothed on top of the sheets. Despite all of the filth in the room, the management decided to extend themselves and provide a new packaged bar of soap laid on top of the dirty soup dish.
The show was great last night. The Great State of Texas has always been good to us. We played well and I feel like people were into it. Some of the Kill the Clients dudes were there. I talked to Jamie Delgado and we both realized that we’ve known each other for almost 12 years, that’s one of the cooler things about sticking around as long as I have: you get to become friends with people that you would normally never even meet.
We just checked into the hotel that Relapse booked for us. It’s definitely a step up from the hellhole we stayed in last night. The only thing that we have to do is hit a Guitar Center. We load in to the studio tomorrow morning at 11:00.
We start recording tomorrow. After all of the planning, rehearsal and preparation, it’s finally here and the only thing left to do is execute.
I’m listening to the Charles Manson record “Air” that came out on Magic Bullet earlier this year, songs written by a man that’s been locked up for most of his life. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been a huge backlash against the label for releasing a record by someone as controversial as Manson. I remember reading that when SST had planned on putting out “Lie” that there were death threats and all of this static.
We picked up some supplies at Guitar Center and went to see “127 Hours”. I was blown away by it. James Franco killed is as Aron Ralston, the canyoneer that cut off his arm after having his arm trapped under a boulder. The movie chronicles his whole ordeal. As food and water runs out, his mind is tested to the limit and he starts having visions of his past and experiencing premonitions of a future life that ultimately motivated him to hack off his arm so he could survive. It was a study in inevitability. One of the most intense moments was when he realized that he had been living this life of independence that was creating a wall. He hadn’t told anyone where we was going, nobody knew what he was doing so when he didn’t return to work on Monday morning, no one knew the true gravity of his situation. He stated at one point that he would most likely be dead by the time the police even considered him a missing person. Through a series of flashbacks we learn that he has a failed relationship and that he possibly had issues with letting people get close to him. Through his fever dreams we see his girlfriend leaving him and saying that “he is going to be so lonely” as she walks away.
The film stayed with me a long time afterward. I remember saying stupid things in the past about how I want to experience things alone and that a sunset over the mountains would only be ruined by having someone there to experience it with me. It’s all bullshit. If you can find someone that you love and are able to hold on to that person it is a beautiful thing. There’s strength in that.
I’m having trouble navigating around Dallas. There are a lot of weird intersections; it’s reminiscent of a European city with curving roads and hard to negotiate intersections.
After the movie, we ate dinner with Bryan Fejardo and his girlfriend at their apartment. I feel comfortable.
Tomorrow we start in on the recording.
12.07.2010 Dallas, TX 21:12
I’ve got the Husker Du cover of “Eight Miles High” playing in my headphones.
Day one in the studio went well. Congleton is probably the best engineer that I’ve ever worked with as well as being a really cool guy. We did drums and bass for “Constellations”, “Angel of Destruction”, “Vermillion” and “Passageways”. It was a good solid day of work.
When we decided to break for dinner Congleton warned us about some of the taquerias in the neighborhood. He indicated that most of them are fronts for prostitution and drug dealing. We rolled up to one of the spots and we knew the score right away when we walked in. There was a white board with a random list of food and no prices. These really intense looking guys eyeballed us. We bailed and hit this other place called Lulu’s where we had breakfast earlier in the day.
It feels good to be in this. Congleton is getting some really brutal rhythm sounds.
12.08.2010 Dallas, TX 21:22
We tracked drums and bass for six songs today: “To Cross the Land”, “Black Heaven”, “Bloodletters”, “Silent World”, “Red Shadows”, and “Cold dark Eyes.” We got a few passes in on “Path of Totality” but I don’t think any of them are keepers. Andrew gets the golden star today for hanging in there and doing a great job. We’re actually a day ahead of schedule.
After the session, Congleton suggested we head out to Bishop Arts, this nearby neighborhood to get dinner. We ate at this Aztec place called Vera Cruz. We were all worn out; a nice hot meal was in order.
I’m going to take a shower and hit the rack early tonight.
12.09.2010 Dallas, TX 09:22
I hit the organic grocery store next to the hotel to fuel up on coffee. I’ve got the Killer Reviews Podcast playing on my headphones; Carson and Andrew are awake and we’ll be heading back to the studio in about an hour or so. At some point today we will finish drums and bass then it’s on to my parts.
I woke up to a wave of anxiety at 07:00 and stared at the ceiling for a while. I’m almost out of money and I’m feeling the pressures of my reality closing in on me. There’s very little I can do about any of this at this point so the only thing to do is focus on the mission in front of me and hope that things will work out. As bad as it is right now, this is the only possible way it could have went.
12.10.2010 Dallas, TX 09:08
I knocked out basic guitar tracks for 7 of the 12 songs yesterday. Five more songs to do today and then on to vocals, overdubs and misc noise tracks. Morgan from Kill the Client is going to come in and do some back-up vocals. Clifford is going to provide some keyboard parts but we’re still a few days from that.
I read this article about AC/DC and the transition between Bon Scott and Brian Johnson. What a great band; “Back in Black” and “Highway to Hell” are two of the best rock records of the 20th Century. You also get a vibe from the article that the Young Brothers were solid guys that worked hard and didn’t have any pretenses about what they were doing with the band. They played high energy, intense rock ‘n’ roll music, and didn’t stray too far away from that. It’s not like Metallica who have completely lost the plot and at this point have spent the last two decades as shadows of themselves but then again, what do I know; those guys all have happening bank accounts, live in mansions and tour the world while I’m sitting in this motel room with $10.00 in my checking account.
The record is starting to take shape. I feel good about it so far; I don’t know if anyone else will like it, but at least we’ll be satisfied with it once it’s all mixed and mastered. Congleton is a great engineer, hands down the best I’ve ever worked with. I’ve been learning a lot watching him work.
We’re in the grind of recording. The motel is close to the studio so we don’t get to see much else besides the inside of the studio and the inside of our room. There isn’t much to do out here: the organic market, a Walgreens, Taco Bell…you get the picture. Everything is pretty much closed when we get back. It’s quiet out here, the only night time sounds are the cars heading East on the interstate.
12.11.2010 Dallas, TX 09:40
I finished up the main guitar tracks yesterday and with much trepidation, moved on to vocals. For the next few days, I’ll be working on the vocals and guitar overdubs. I’m not much of a vocalist, so this is the most stressful part of the session for me. You have to physically be “in it” when cutting vocal tracks. If you tired, or not feeling well, you can still nail guitar tracks, but there is a certain physicality that singing requires.
Andrew flew back to New York yesterday, Carson shipped out earlier this morning so I’m on my own now. I’ll have one more day in the motel then I’ll be bunking over at Congleton’s place.
I can see the end of the mission in sight. The last few months have been hard, the whole year has been extremely difficult. There’s been a lot of false starts and disappointments, a lot of letdowns and obstacles thrown in our path both individually and collectively. None of that will matter a year from now when I listen to this record. No one will care about how fucked up things were, how broke we were or any of that.
Last night, we hit that Aztec place again in Bishop Arts. On the way back to the studio, Congleton pointed out the Texas Theater, the place where they arrested Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was an ex-marine.
Today felt really long and tiring. I tracked vocals and guitar overdubs all day; I can’t remember which ones I did, luckily I’m keeping a list so I don’t forget anything. Morgan and James from Kill the Client came by the studio to do backing vocals. Morgan did a great job.
I’m back at the motel; for dinner I had a bowl of soup and the cupcakes that Fejardo’s girlfriend baked. I feel beat, maybe I’ll lay down for a while. Kill the Client is playing with Phobia and Devourment tonight; oh yeah, Eyehategod is also playing.
12.12.2010 Dallas, TX 09:29
The organic grocery store next the motel doesn’t open until noon, so I did some recon and found a found a place called “Family Pancake House” and secured a cup of coffee. I’ll be checking out of the motel today; from here on out, I’ll be staying with Congleton and his wife. I think I’ve seen everything there is to see in this part of town.
I checked out the show last night. I got there just as Kill the Client started playing; they killed it. It was good to hang for a while and unwind a little. I bailed after Phobia played. At this point, I don’t have much interest in seeing Eyehategod; over the years, I’ve seen about 20 or 30 times and have played some of the most intense, scariest shows I’ve ever seen. I saw them back in ’97 with Neurosis on one of the “Through Silver in Blood” tours. I watched them completely annihilate the Middle East Downstairs. That whole evening was intense; Neurosis played a transcendent set and I walked home in a rainstorm.
I saw Eyehategod play pretty much all of their regional shows over the last year and it’s not the same. I can’t speak for them, but it feels like a money-grab. They haven’t released an album in 10 years and are playing songs that are 15 years old in some cases. It was cool, but it was mainly the nostalgia of how intense they used to be. The singer was deploring everyone to buy shirts and records, which struck me as odd because show admission was $25.00. Most of those guys are in another band called Outlaw Order, I have both of their records and would be the first one in line to see them play.
Anyway, I was getting tired so I slipped out and drove back to the motel. Christmas decorations were up, which reminded me that it’s close to Christmas.
12.13.2010 Dallas, TX 13:03
I’m sitting in the lounge of the studio, drinking coffee cup no. 2 and listening to “Exterminate” by Angel Corpse. Congleton is in the control room working on the preliminary mix for “Passageways”; it’s one of the slower songs on the record, so it might be a good place to start. The raw tracks sound great, I’m excited to hear how things develop as we get deeper into the mixing process.
If it wasn’t for John Baizley and the Baroness guys we wouldn’t be here working with Congleton. Baizley introduced us when we played in Dallas on the Isis tour. Shortly after that we started talking about doing a record together. “Blue” Baroness’s first record with Congleton sounds massive, that pretty much sold me, the tones on that record really put the hooks in me. Congleton also works with Explosions in the Sky, another band that I really love. Aside from all of this he’s worked with people like David Byrne; you can’t front of that!
I wrapped up vocals and overdubs yesterday. Congleton put together a rough mix of a few songs and sent off to Clifford so he can do his keyboard parts. I’m looking forward to hear what he comes up with.
Last night was the first night crashing with Congleton and his wife. I bunked in a small guest room filled with some guitars and a box of Paper Chase record, his old band. He has these two cats, Epstein and Malachi. Epstein is friendly and into being around people. Malachi is stand-offish and territorial. That’s cool, I can understand that kind of thing. He hangs out and clocks me from across the room. I was kicking back in the guest room, reading a few pages out of “White Line Fever” the Lemmy autobiography and Malachi was sitting on the windowsill staring at me with his creepy, human eyes.
We wrapped up the first day of mixing. “Passageways” and “Vermillion” are in done. We hit the local Whole Foods and checked the mixes at Congleton’s pad on his boom box. Everything sounds in order.
I’m listening to Ides of Gemini right now on my headphones. I’m tired but I know that sleep will be not come. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since we left New York, I suppose it’s anxiety over the record. I’ve been having nightmares every night but I can’t remember any of the details. I feel tormented. If I could just shut my eyes and drift off. The Ides stuff is pretty awesome; dreamy kind of shoegaze, black metal inspired stuff. It reminds me of Alcest crossed with Amber Asylum. Brother Jay Bennet is in the band along with his Lady Sera.
The cd arrived right before I shipped out to come down here to slow burn my way through the recording of our new record. The packaging is really beautiful as well; a lot of thought went into the layout. It reminds me of the old days when people cared about the tangible experience that accompanied music. That seems to be a thing of the past these days.
I was reading through one of the old Anodyne tour journals from 12 years ago. It was our first journey out to the west coast when we toured with Playing Enemy. Was it really that long ago? It was so different back then. The hardships we dealt with on that tour would have broken a lot of bands up; we were strong and it makes me feel proud to have shared those times with those guys.
12.14.2010 Dallas, TX 13:37
We’re back in the studio. We’re in the phase of the process where I sit around for long periods of time while Congleton works on the mixes. The days are long and emotionally draining. I’ve got the Doug Stanhope Acid Bootleg playing. I’ve listened to it about 5 times in the last few months and it never gets old. A few years ago I got the chance to see him at Caroline’s in New York City. It was the first and only comedy show that I’ve ever seen. He was brilliant, I definitely want to see him perform again.
I read a bit more of “White Line Fever” this morning. I didn’t realize how much stuff Lemmy did outside of the band between tours. Motorhead is a mighty band and Lemmy is a great songwriter. Everyone knows “Aces of Spades”, the song stays in your head. Not only were they one of the most extreme bands at the time, but he wrote catchy songs.
I remember finding out about Motorhead by accident when I was in 8th grade. There was a shop in my hometown aptly called “The Book and Record Store” which sold…books and records. Whoever was the music buyer was really keyed in because that’s where I bought a lot of the early stuff that I got into. That place and Trash American Style, another great defunct record store. I bought records by Scorpions, Saxon, Ramones, New York Dolls, Black Flag and Black Sabbath there as well as all of the Robert E. Howard Conan paperbacks. I remember seeing the Motorhead LP’s in the bin and not knowing if they were a heavy metal band or a punk band. They had long hair, but they also had that evil looking logo. It took several visits to The Book and record store before I finally picked up “Iron Fist”. The summer I bought that record also coincided with the summer that the famous cassette tape that had Circle Jerks “Group Sex” on one side and the first Suicidal Tendencies record on the other was circulated, hand-to-hand among my circle of friends.
It’s time for another cup of coffee.
Coffee pot No. 2 is brewing. The heat in the lounge was on for a while but now it seems to be off. The last few days have been cold and the heat wasn’t happening in the lounge where I’ve been spending most of my time. Congleton is doing all of the heavy lifting at this point, I’m just hanging out in the lounge drinking coffee and listening to mu iTunes library on the laptop. I’ve been into mostly old stuff like Motorhead, Girlschool, UFO, Hawkwind and the “High and Dry” record by Def Leppard.
If you only know Def Leppard by the relatively flaccid record “Pyromania”, “Hysteria” and “Adrenalize” you’re really missing out.
12.15.2010 Dallas, TX 01:10
I can’t sleep. I watched “Wings for Wheels”, the documentary on the making of Springsteen’s album “Born to Run.” That’s always been one of my favorite records, Springsteen in general has always been one of my favorite songwriters. In my opinion, he eclipses Bob Dylan. It was a powerful film that illustrated the process of producing “Born to Run” the record that pretty much put Springsteen on the map.
We have 4 songs mixed, 8 more to go. There are 3 days left, Congleton seems to feel comfortable with the schedule so I’m not going to give into my anxiety. The mission is nearing completion. I felt like I’ve been working on this all year. We did our first round of demo’s back in March with Tim up in Boston; that session was 8 songs, a few of those songs were drastically changed. The rest of the material was demo’ed when I got back from the Wormrot tour in October and November in our practice space. I spent pretty much every available day working on the mixes and vocals. I hope it all pays off.
The record sounds great; Congleton is a top engineer. I would love for this record to change things for us, deep down I’m hoping that this will make a difference in our career, but I know that this line of thinking will only set me up for disappointment and heartache. The people that like it will like it and the people that don’t won’t; it’s as simple as that.
On Friday we wrap it up and I start driving back to New York with all of the gear. I don’t have enough money to pay my rent. On some level it burns me up that I go to the lengths that I do to deliver and I can’t even afford to live. That’s just the way it is and it’s no one’s fault really. I signed on for this.
After the session Congleton and I got some chow at a sandwich shop near his house. We drove the Oak Tree Inn, the motel we stayed at on the night of our show in Dallas. I pointed it out and he exclaimed, “you stayed there! That’s a total prostitute motel!” that explains a lot about the room. The sketchy mirror parallel to the bed, the odd look on the guy’s face when I asked for a receipt and the fact that they only had rooms with one bed. It’s an ugly world.
We’re back at the studio. Congleton is working on the basic mix for “Path of Totality” in the control room; the procedure is that he works on the tracks on his own and I hang out in the lounge; when he’s at a point where everything is up, he calls me in to go over the levels.
I just got a message from Clifford, he’s working on the tracks, hopefully they’ll show up later tonight.
I watched “The Promise” a documentary about making Springsteen’s record “Darkness on the Edge of Town”. It was a late night Springsteen fest. Both “Darkness” and “Born to Run” are probably my two favorite records by The Boss. There are some emotionally charged songs on both records.
The room I’m bunking in doesn’t have a door so I feel a little exposed at night, but I’ve had to deal with far worse accommodations. Apparently, there’s going to be someone else bumking at the house tonight. That’s cool, I f]have a bunch of reading to do and some more films to watch on my laptop; I’ll stay out of the way.
This is what people have to say about the Oak Tree Inn:
by Carlos S at Insider Pages
Stayed her for the night. Not a safe neighborhood the hotel was old and had a wierd smell to it. Wouldn’t recommend it.
All i can say is i was scared all night and sleep with my gun in my hand and the room smelled of smoke.
I’m on my bunk in the room without a door, I’m totally shot right now but it’s cool because we mixed 3 songs today. After finishing up at the studio, we stopped off at Whole Foods to get some good chow. I shambled through the prepared food section and I picked up some sushi and spring rolls along with a pound of the some kind of organic, Fair Trade, socially aware coffee.
We have five more tracks to mix; the days are endless and are blurring together for me. I can’t even tell if any of it sounds good anymore or if I even like the songs anymore. Cliff sent over a rough mix containing the track he did for “Angel of Destruction”; we downloaded it an checked it out down at the studio. As expected it sounds amazing; it has a creepy, Vincent Price vibe to it. Listening to the rough mix made me think of a gigantic swinging pendulum over a naked girl tied to a stone altar.
I’m posted up on my bunk listening to a Doug Stanhope bootleg, he’s talking about cocaine and not being able to get a hard-on. I thought cocaine was supposed to make you into a sex-machine? Isn’t that why all of those porn stars snort coke? Isn’t that the reason why people hang out at clubs and snort lines in men’ rooms across the country, so they can fuck all night long?
12.16.2010 Dallas, TX 12:17
Did you know that you can get one free refill on your coffee at the Whole Foods near John Congleton’s house? Something like that would never fly in New York City.
I’ve got Exodus “Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A” playing in my headphones. I wouldn’t know how ripping this record is if it wasn’t for Jimmy Wagley, our driver on the Isis West Coast tour. I’ve been really suspicious of these reunions that have been going on over the last few years. I saw Exodus back in the 80’s with Anthrax, Celtic Frost was on the bill but I got there too late to see them, so I want to remember them as a vital band. This newest Exodus material shreds and is not just an attempt to recapture the “thrash” sound that they helped pioneer, it’s a legit metal record; the playing is awesome and the songwriting is creative.
Cliff sent a rough mix of his parts for “Black Hole of Summer”. It sounds killer, I wish there was a way we could bring him out on the road with us because I think keyboards would really beef up out sound and add a serious layer of heaviness to the band. At this moment, my choice for opening song is “Black Hole of Summer”.
I’m feeling pretty worn out. I slept late this morning and had a sore throat. Earlier I was looking at the route home. It’s pretty much a straight line 1600 miles long.
We mixed 3 songs today, “Cold Dark Eyes”, “To Cross the Land” and “Angel of Destruction” which leaves us with two songs left. It felt like a long day; we hit Whole Foods, where I picked up some sushi, beets and a Kombucha. It just feels good to eat something good, I feel relaxed and could probably fall asleep right now.
Tomorrow is the last day, two more songs to go. I’ll load up the van and get out of Dodge.
12.17.2010 Dallas, TX 13:10
We’re getting a little bit of a late start today. Two more tracks to mix. I want to listen to everything once more before I leave, I’m sure that there will be some things that we’ll have to revisit, but maybe not, I’m not convinced that I can effectively make decisions about the mix anymore at this point.
I’m listening to Cliff’s rough mix of his parts for “Black Heaven”. It means a lot to me that he and Morgan can be part of the record. I feel like it adds a lot to the vibe of the record.
I’m trying to keep the Dukowski philosophy intact these days.
There are only a few weeks left in this year. It’s been very difficult for me this year. I have to believe that next year will be better, that there will at least be some opportunities.
I’m looking forward to getting this day over with. I still have to pack up my gear, load the van and fuel up.
Congleton is working up a mix for “Black Heaven” the last song in the session. I packed up my guitars and most of the gear; everything is still in the live room so I can’t load the van until we’re done. It should go pretty quickly. I feel beat, my head hurts and I could use a shower.
“Black Hole of Summer” sounded huge. It’s one of the better executed songs on the record and the production sounded pretty epic. I don’t feel completely humiliated by the sound of my voice so that must be a good sign. It gets my vote for opening track. We’ve been playing a lot of this material for almost two years so it’s hard to get excited about the older material, but at this juncture, I’m happy with the way everything turned out. Of course, when I listen, I can hear parts that I could have played better or overdubs that I should have done, but that’s typical for every session I’ve ever done. Your mind plays tricks on you and you start hearing things that aren’t there.
This return trip is going to be brutal.
12.18.2010 Somewhere 21:38
I’m not exactly sure where I am; I just know that I’m on the correct highway, heading in the right direction when I finally pulled off to get some chow at Shoney’s. Country music is playing and the people next to me are talking about going to church in the morning.
Each mile feels like it’s subtracting moments from my life, quickening the pace of my march to death. So be it; I’d rather die doing this than sitting at a desk somewhere like I used to do. I’ve seen that life and decided that it’s not for me.
I hope the recording sounds as good when I get home as it did in the studio. I can’t even tell.
I stayed in one of the best Super 8 Motels that I think I’ve ever stayed in last night. It was clean and the room was nice an big, tidy. I slept really well, the first goodnight’s sleep I’ve had since I left New York. I’m not sure what the deal is going to be tonight.